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Archive of entries posted on April 2008

Crossing the Minch

Crossing the Minch | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Now there’s a good name for a tune! We crossed from Canna to Barra in
fine weather, losing sunshine only for a spell, which reminded us how
chilly it can be on the water in a northerly breeze so early in the
season. Incidents during the trip – being buzzed by three jet fighters
engaged in dogfighting practice, and sighting a couple of dolphins.
Landfall was made at Muldoanich, and the channel markers followed in to
Castlebay (photo) with its handy visitors’ moorings. Today we took the
bus west-about up to the airfield and watched the arrival and departure
of the Glasgow/Barra/Benbecula flight, which lands on the beach at low
tide, before walking to Eoligarry and along Traigh Scurrival, a mile and
a half long beach of white sand with wonderful views out to offlying
islands, Eriskay and South Uist. We completed the round-island trip by
bussing east-about back to Castlebay.

Arisaig and Canna

Arisaig and Canna | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We had good sailing from Mull round Ardnamurchan Point to Arisaig,
arriving shortly before the wind really got up. The holding is good
and we spent a comfortable at anchor night despite the strong wind and
heavy rain. A phone next morning call to a yacht rigger on the Clyde
provided directions for stripping down the Furlex gear, so while the
mate took the train into Fort William for provisions, the skipper
successfully repaired the headsail furling system. Later in the day we
were joined for the week by Jim and Linda, who brought good weather
with them – the evening turned out very fine. With good weather
continuing we sailed out past Rum and round to Canna, enjoying views
of the mainland hills. As the afternoon warmed up, the cloud level
gradually rose, revealing the peaks of the Skye and Rum Cuillins. We
walked across the new bridge to Sanday to visit the renovated church,
but found it still a building site after five years of (very
intermittent?) work.

Up Aloft

Up Aloft | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

We have been having trouble with the headsail furling gear on Arctica -
it has been excessively stiff to operate. No obvious problem at deck
level could be found, so suspicion turned on the masthead. We have had
to recognise that our days of climbing the mast are over, except when
emergency dictates. News of our difficulties spread and the
Harbourmaster suggested we have a word with the contractor building the
new shoreside facilities following the installation of extended pontoon
berthing. The upshot was a trip aloft in the basket of his extending
crane, as the photo shows. Sadly, no problem was found there either but
a couple of screws were tightened and WD40 applied liberally to the
moving parts before descending to terra firma. Tomorrow will tell
whether or not the problem has been fixed. Tonight we sleep with fingers


Otters | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

Last night was spent in the lovely anchorage at Puilladobhrain
(Otters’ Pool) but no otters were seen. However tonight at Tobermory
we watched from the gangway to the mooring pontoon an otter, not
twenty feet away, diving in repeatedly, bringing its catch to the
rocks and crunching it down noisily. It being dusk, there was not
light enough for a photo so today’s photo is of Duart Castle, which
stands imposingly on a headland at the southeast end of the Sound of
Mull. It has been the ancestral home of the MacLeans since about 1250
although it was lost for 200 years to the Duke of Argyll, who overran
it in 1691. It is open to the public, and an important tourist
attraction on Mull, as is Tobermory itself, with its brightly painted
seafront buildings and boats in the bay.


WHISKY TRAIL | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

It could be said that Arctica is on the whisky trail. After the first
night of the season at Tighnabruaich, the next port of call was
Campbeltown, home to two distilleries – Glen Scotia and Springbank. It
was once the whisky capital of Scotland with 21 producing distilleries
in 1886! A rare and favourable ENE wind took us round the Mull of
Kintyre and nicely up to Islay, where there are 7 working
distilleries. We are moored for the night in the small anchorage at
Lagavulin, sheltered by islets outside and guarded over by the ruins
of a castle on the point. With the UK Coastguard taking industrial
action there are no usual weather forecasts for the next few days, but
we can get alternatives by VHF from Ireland, on Navtex and on the Met
Office website. The easterly airflow is set to continue, which is
ideal for us as we sail north.

Afloat Again

Afloat Again | Click photo to enlarge

Originally uploaded by arctica

The sailing season is underway and Arctica will be launched this week,
after a flurry of cleaning, scrubbing, polishing, fixing, antifouling,
loading and rigging. It will be nice to feel movement in her again after
six months propped up ashore in the boatyard at Dumbarton. At last some
warmth is creeping in to the lengthening days and we hope for a good
summer ahead – Force 4 winds and sunshine! We will set off after
receiving the few items on order and due for delivery in the next few
days, and will be reporting our progress as usual. All friends are
welcome to post comments on the blog.